Evaluating QB's of the Beamer Era: Part 2

A look back at Quarterbacks of the Beamer Era.

Editor's Note: If you missed Part One, in all it's excellence, it's a real treat. Well worth the time.

OK, that's for the people who didn't enjoy rock and roll Tech Triumph, please don't draw and quarter me! If you read part one, it's good to see you back again. Today we cover the VT QB's of the New Millennium. Hard to believe that we've traveled from the late 80's of the independent era, to the membership of the BIG EAST days; the Sugar Bowl win against Texas, up to the National Title game in 1999 and beyond. Today we see the end of the Big East era and start of the ACC era. So sit back and grab a cold one as we travel back down memory Lane (See what I did there?)

8.) Grant Noel (2001,2002)

Career Record: 10-4

Boy, did Grant Noel walk into a sticky situation. He only had to follow the guy who redefined a position, went Number 1 overall in the NFL draft, and took a team to a national title game. No pressure what so ever right? Grant Noel wasn't horrible, but he didn't have that "IT" factor that separates a good quarterback from a great quarterback, and when it came down to it, he just wasn't a big game QB. His first start at VT was good, a September opener in 2001 against UConn. He would win this start going 16-of-20 for 267 yards and two TD's.  He would reel off a solid start (6-0) to the season, but was subpar against Syracuse and Pitt that cost the Hokie's a chance at a Big East title. He would eventually give way to Bryan Randall the next season.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: November 17th, 2001. (18)VT 31-UVA 17 @UVA

OK so Noel wasn't spectacular and didn't accomplish great feats at VT that stay in our memories, but he did make one good one in his time; he beat UVA at UVA. Noel was solid as he threw three TD's in the first half to put the game out of reach for the Cavaliers early. UVA was in its first year with everyone's favorite Cavalier coach Al (I'm dry as a bone) Groh. It's always good when you beat your archrival so Noel get's a vote a confidence on this one.

CAREER LOWLIGHT: December 1st, 2001. (14)VT 24-(1)Miami 26 @Lane Stadium

The Syracuse and Pitt games were tempting to put here, but when you have a chance to upset a NUMBER 1 ranked rival at home and you can't do it, that's enough to pull hairs from every VT fan from here to Cali. VT had a real fighting chance in this game against a team that had future NFL stars like Jeremy Shockey, Cliton Portis, Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Ed Reed, Johnathan Vilma, D.J. Williams, Kellen Winslow, and Vince Wilfork. Yet VT could not get across the leading score. Noel was relatively no help, going 4-16 for 81 yards with no TD's.  I know what you're thinking, give the guy a break, you just named off all those names man, tough to do anything against that. True, but superstars thrive for a chance to defeat elite talents like The "U" and in probably the biggest game in Noel's career he choked. Still I don't place all the blame on him, had Earnest Wilford caught that two point conversion we may have had a different conversation. Bottom line though you can't throw FOUR PICKS against the top ranked Hurricanes and expect to win. Bad form Grant, bad form.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Noel wasn't spectacular, but wasn't bad. Still Noel dropped the ball of VT success that was rolling and was pedestrian at best, which is why Randall got the job in 2002 in the LSU game and never lost it again. Noel got a look with the Baltimore Ravens, but never materialized into an NFL player. Last I got word of him was that he was a sales consultant for Globus Spine. Grant Noel, the answer to a VT trivia question: Who took over after Michael Vick?

9) Bryan Randall (2002, 2003, 2004)

Career Record: 26-12

I have to be honest, I love Bryan Randall. This guy is one of my favorite VT QB's of all time. Why you ask? He was dealing in an era dominated by two Vicks and still remained humble and quiet about his situation. Dealing with the memories of Michael hanging around and having his highly recruited brother on campus as well would have been enough to break most guys, but Bryan was a trooper who played the cards he was dealt and in the end, had a great career. His first go as starter was on a Thursday night game on September 12th, 2002 against a Marshall team that was ranked 12th nationally and lead by future NFL QB Byron Leftwich. VT was 11th nationally so a big ranked match on a Thursday night, easily a nerve shaker, is a stern test but Bryan didn't have to do a lot in that game. His stats were 5-12 for 101 yards with seven rushes for 44 yards. Most of the heavy lifting in the game was done by the tailback tandem of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones, who rushed for a combined for 224 yards.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: October 28, 2004. (22)VT 34- GT 20 @GT

First year in the ACC, good to have a senior QB like Bryan Randall there to ease transition. As I stated in my last part, the hallmark of great QB's is winning with your back against the wall and Randall did it in this critical ACC Thursday night game in Atlanta. The Hokies fell behind 17-7 at halftime as Calvin Johnson was nearly uncoverable. With VT's offense being stale for most of the first half, Randall came out in the second half and led the charge. In the fourth quarter down 20 to 12, Bryan Randall hit Eddie Royal for an 80-yard TD pass to make it 20-18. Randall followed that up with a two-point conversion to Richard Johnson to tie the game. Randall wasn't done by a long shot. On his next drive he would find the endzone again, this time hitting a 51-yard TD to Josh Morgan to make it 27-20, Putting VT ahead for the first time in the game. A late INT by Roland Minor would skew the score to 34-20, but it was clear that this was to be one of the classic comebacks in the history of VT. Randall's final numbers: 18-31 for 304 yards with three TD's, one INT, and nine rushes for 64 yards. One of my favorite games of all time.

CAREER LOWLIGHT: October 22, 2003. (3)VT 7-WVU 28 @WVU

This game still makes me twinge. Morgantown is a nightmare to play at, that's not exaggeration friends. Just ask the couches. This was indeed the infamous couch burning game, a Thursday night special that VT fans would like to forget (Most things I remember about Bryan seems to be on Thursday nights, go figure). Tech as a whole was just horrible that night, as the Mountaineers gashed the Hokies for 285 yards rushing, lead by Quincy Wilson and Kay-Jay Harris. Curse that stinking RICH RODRIGUEZ AND HIS STUPID SPREAD OFFENSE! Bryan himself was not at his best, as he was 14-of-22 for 146 yards and three picks. It hurts when you're also hunting for a national title, lose in Morgantown, and next week after a major win over Miami play Larry Fitzgerald (Yes I didn't say Pitt. Had they not had him, VT would have won that meeting and the meeting the previous year!). This game was the snowball affect for a wash year that ended 8-5 with losses to UVA, Pitt, WVU, BC, and a bowl loss to Cal that could have been won. Bad year, that's all that can be said.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Bryan may have had some lows in his career, but boy his senior year was great. 11-3 with an ACC title, ACC player of the year, First team All-ACC. Wow. You think about it, he came very close to perhaps playing for a national title. Hear me out. The three losses that year really weren't his fault. The USC game, the refs killed the momentum with a bad pass interference call in the third quarter and the ref even admitted later that he blew that call. Against NC State you can blame Frank Beamer and Bryan Stinespring for not centering the ball on the play prior to the missed field goal at the end of regulation. As for the Auburn game in the Sugar Bowl, had Bryan Randall's pass to the Fullback Jesse Allen on fourth and goal in the second quarter been caught, VT would have had the lead and may have won the game. But again hindsight. Bryan went on to the NFL as a scout team quarterback for the Falcons, Buccaneers, and Steelers., but never got into a game. He then bounced around several leagues such as the CFL, AAFL, IFL, LSFL, and the AFL. He had a good run with the IFL Richmond Revolution in which in 2010 he threw for over 2,000 yards and 58 TDs. Today he's with the Philadelphia Soul of the AFL.

10) Marcus Vick (2003,2005)

Career Record: 11-2

Marcus Vick, this guy is a a story but not a good one. Everyone expected great things from Marcus, namely finishing what Michael had started: winning the National Championship. He wasn't short on talent, some would even say he was a more accurate passer that Michael was. Unfortunately he squandered any opportunities he had with his on and off the field behavior. The incident in which he, Mike Imoh and Brenden Hill were busted for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, brandishing a firearm in 2005, and that's just a couple of the off the field issues. His on the field issues included flipping off WVU fans in Morgantown and stomping on Louisville DE Elvis Dumervil in the Gator Bowl. Finally, Beamer had enough and exiled him from VT for good in 2006. Vick only started fully one season and had a really good year, but all that was marred by his very unpredictable behavior. Marcus got off to a decent start as VT starter when he won a 20-16 game at N.C.State in 2005. He was 10-21 for 108 yards and a TD with 31 rushing yards.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: October 27th 2005. (3)VT 30- (13)BC 10 @VT

Marcus was indeed an accurate passer, and this battle of ranked teams showed how good Vick could be when he was on. In the game Vick picked apart BC's defense, going 22 for 28 for 280 yards and a TD, as well as providing rushing yards with 13 rushes for 52 yards. The VT offense put up 222 yards rushing in a rout that had VT fans dreaming of National Title hopes for the end of the season.

CAREER LOWLIGHT: November 5th 2005. (3)VT 7-(5) Miami 27 @VT

This game was probably the biggest game of Marcus' career, and he and the Hokies choked big time. Miami came to town with VT nipping at the heels of Texas and USC in the hunt for the National Championship. Big time recruits were on campus, it was a night game, the fans were in a frenzy. It was perfect, then came the game...and VT fell flat. Marcus Vick had no Vick magic that night as he was held to 8-of-22 for 90 yards with two INT's and he was sacked five times. This game put VT behind in so many ways, recruiting went horribly that year as they couldn't close with LeSean McCoy, Gerald McCoy, and other big name recruits. It also gave a negative perception of VT that took a while to shake. It was the last time VT was ranked in the top three in any poll and was the last time VT ever got close to the National Championship game.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Vick is the ultimate story of what could have been. The skill was indeed there, and had he behaved, VT may have won a Crystal Football. But his own struggles tripped him up and cost him greatly. He went undrafted in the 2006 NFL draft. He got on the scout team with the Miami Dolphins, only playing one game as a receiver, but never caught a reception. Today Vick has still had legal troubles involving an alleged molestation of a minor, leading Suffolk VA police on a chase when he refused to ID himself to a police officer, and failing to provide documentation about his financial status to the court in 2013. He appeared on Michael Vick's reality show The Michael Vick Project when Michael tried to mentor his troubled brother. As of 2013, it hasn't seemed to have helped.

11.) Sean Glennon (2006,2007,2008)

Career Record: 18-8

I remember when this guy was recruited. He was a four star QB by most major recruiting organizations. Tall with a good arm, he  looked like your prototypical Pro-Style QB. Quite the change of the 2002-2005 option oriented world of Bryan Randall and Marcus Vick. Sean was patient as he learned from Randall his first year in 2004, but then redshirted during Marcus's one year as starter. Then in 2006 he got his chance. He was decent in his first year at the helm, going 10-3, but it was clear (especially in 2006 when everyone's favorite softie of an offensive line coach Curt Newsome came aboard) that Sean was a pocket passer playing in an option system. It became clear that VT's lackluster O-Lines could not protect Sean and often times he was easy sack material for teams like FSU and Georgia. Worst part about it all was that Sean had a very horrible internal clock that didn't hit the alarm when defenders were near and he would take a sack rather than get rid of the ball and avoid the loss. But still there was talent there. His first go as the starter was on September 2, 2006 against Northeastern. It was a good first game, 15-of-18 for 222 yards and three TDs to one INT. Personally I think if VT had given him better protection and taught him to get rid of the ball quicker (In 2006 Mike O'Cain was QB coach and we can all agree he was not a great teacher, I heard some Clemson fans call him Mike O'For a loss and Mike O'Turnover from his days at Clemson) he would have been something better.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: November 30th, 2006. (19)VT 27-(14)Wake Forest 6 @WF

After losses to GT and BC earlier in the season, the Hokies were eliminated from the ACC championship race. At this point the Hokies could have easily just phoned it in, but they played hard the rest of the way. When it got to November, Tech got an opportunity against the team that was most likely going to win the ACC that year, the much improved Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Jim Grobe had done an excellent job in building the WF program and it was starting to show, with QB Riley Skinner conducting the offense. VT came into Winston-Salem with a chip on their shoulders and took control of the game. In the third quarter leading 7-3, Sean Glennon hit Josh Morgan for a 53-yd TD to put the Hokies up 14-3. From there the Hokies held suit as Glennon and the "O" got enough field goals to put the game out of reach and leave the eventual champions with a bad taste in their mouths. Glennon was a solid 14-of-21 252 yards two TD's game that was managed well with no INT's.

CAREER LOWLIGHT: December 30th, 2006: Chic-Fil-A Bowl (14)VT 27- Georgia 31

Nothing hurts worse than losing a game you should win, especially when it's a team the caliber of Georgia. VT had a 21-3 halftime lead and was dominating the game. In the second half things quickly fell apart. Following a 51-yard field goal from Brandon Coutu, Georgia was still down by two scores until Mark Richt pulled a page from Beamer's playbook and recovered an onside kick. From there the flood gates opened and Georgia went on a barrage, outscoring the Hokies 25-3 the rest of the game. Sean Glennon was not a factor going 13-of-26 for 94 yards and three INT's. Glennon was also sacked three times. Yes, the onside kick would be bad. But good QB's fight their way out of a bad situation and rather than shake the funk. Glennon sank in it when his team needed him the most, and in the end future first round pick Matthew Stafford out-dueled him.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Sean wasn't horrible, but more and more it became obvious that he was not effective in VT's system. Eventually Tyrod Taylor would take the job from him and little by little his time on the field diminished. Glennon had moments, but ultimately design was against him and it seemed his situation was just not beatable. Last I heard, Mr. Glennon had been a backup for the Minnesota Vikings.

12.) Tyrod Taylor (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)

Career Record: 34-8

If there's a Mount Rushmore of great Tech QB's it would have Don Strock, Jim Druckenmiller, Michael Vick, and Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was one of the most heralded recruits ever to come to Blacksburg, considered a top 30 player by every recruiting source and recruited by almost every major program in the country. Beamer knew he was good the second he saw him, recruiting him as a sophomore in high school. I remember when he committed to VT and how excited I was to see us get him. I knew in my bones he was special and he didn't disappoint. Tyrod Taylor did almost everything a QB at VT could possibly do. He won more games than any other QB before as as starter; set passing records, scoring records; won three ACC titles, went to three Orange Bowls, won two bowl games; was ACC player of the year; First team ACC; Beat FSU twice, Nebraska twice, Miami twice, UVA three times, and beat Tennessee to boot. Quite the resume if you ask me. His first start was on September 13th 2007 against Ohio. Following an abysmal showing at LSU, VT needed a spark and Taylor was that spark. Against former Cornhusker head coach Frank Solich's tough Ohio "D" Taylor grabbed attention with his arm, completing 18-of-31 for 287 yards with one INT.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: September 19th, 2009. (13)VT 16-(19)Nebraska 15 @Lane Stadium

I can never talk enough about this game. This is one of my favorite VT moments of all time. After watching Ndamukong Suh, Prince Amukamara, and the Husker defense dominate the Hokies for the whole game, I was about to abandon ship and turn the game off with 44 seconds left. Then the unthinkable happened. Taylor stood like a statue with the rush closing in and found Danny Coale streaking down the sideline wide open. Taylor heaved Coale's way and hit him for an 81-yard catch and grab to the Nebraska 3-yard line. Two plays later, with pressure closing in again, Taylor scrambled around and directed his receivers around to get open and Taylor found Dyrell Roberts in the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown with 21 seconds left on the clock. The rest is history. I've said it before and I say it again, the hallmark of a great QB is when they respond with their backs against the wall and Taylor delivered in the clutch.

CAREER LOWLIGHT: September 11th, 2010. (13)VT16-James Madison 21.

Taylor did a lot of things right in Blacksburg, but he and VT made a very big boo boo in 2010, probably the biggest at VT all time. Following a tough loss to Boise State in Washington D.C., the Hokies probably saw JMU as a rest on a shortened week. On that wet and miserable day befitting an upset, VT had trouble from the opening minutes, taking almost the entire first quarter to get a TD. After that first one it was field goals the rest of the way. VT was clearly not in the right place in this game, looking tired and defeated while letting an AVERAGE JMU team run all over them. I can't stress that enough, this was not a good JMU team that had won the FCS the year before or anything like that, they were .500 THAT SEASON! Taylor was human in that game, going 10-of-16 for 124 yards and one TD, although he gained 86 yards on the ground. VT needed Taylor to take them on his back and get them home, and on this day, he couldn't deliver.

FINAL THOUGHT

Taylor did so much at VT that he, in my opinion, needs to have his number honored, and put up in the endzone with Beamer, Vick and the rest of the greats. As for what he does today, he's Joe Flacco's backup for the Baltimore Ravens. He was on the team when they won the Superbowl in 2013 and most, like myself, believe it's only a matter of time before he becomes a starter somewhere.

13.) Logan Thomas (2011,2012,2013)

Career Record: 26-14

I hear the groans already from most of you out there, and rightfully so to most capacities. Like Sean Glennon, Thomas was mostly a victim of circumstance more than lack of talent. Thomas was a top 50 recruit coming from high school, problem was he was supposed to be a tight end in college. However after watching Cam Newton at Auburn, Beamer and Stinespring thought they could create their own Newton at VT in Logan Thomas. That experiment more or less was the final blow to Kevin Sherman, Curt Newsome, and Mike O'Cain's jobs at VT after 2012 and Stinespring's lucky he wasn't completely exiled as well. Thomas had a lot of good traits especially physical, but if he was going to have to learn the position and work on mechanics, Mike O'Cain probably wasn't the best guy for that. Logan's first go was on September 3rd, 2011 against Appalachian State. It was a blowout win, and Thomas didn't have to do much. His stats reflect that, 9-of-19 149 yards and two TDs. His first year was good enough with an 11-3 record; but after that things went down hill (15-11 the next two years).

CAREER HIGHLIGHT:  October 8th, 2011. (21)VT 38-Miami 35 @Lane Stadium

This game is easily the best game Thomas ever had. Following a horrible loss at home to Clemson, VT needed to keep their ACC title hopes alive and Miami was hungry under new coach Al Golden. The 'Canes came in with passion and kept the game close as VT only had a 14-7 lead at halftime. The second half continued the teeter-totter battle as both offenses refused to go down and Jacory Harris traded blows with Thomas all the way to the fourth quarter. With 2:46 left in the game, Thomas orchestrated a fantastic drive that capped with a 19-yard QB keeper for the go-ahead score. After a defensive stand for the last 56 seconds, VT collected a win against their rivals from Coral Gables. Thomas had his best statistical game, going 23-of-25 for 310 yards and three TDs while adding 38 yards rushing.

CAREER LOWLIGHT: September 15th, 2012. (13)VT 17-Pitt 35.

I know, I know. Thomas had worse games than this, but this, THIS is the game that really caused the snowball affect of 2012 that ended with one of the worst seasons in VT history and resulted in the firing of three offensive coaches and the demotion of another. VT was ranked heading into this game. Two weeks before they had won a thrilling contest on Labor Day against Georgia Tech at Lane Stadium. But those who watched VT the first two weeks could tell that Thomas wasn't the same without Danny Coale, Jarrett Boykin, and David Wilson. Also the lack of successful recruiting was starting to show, especially on offense. Pitt severely exposed VT both offensively and defensively, dominating the trenches and gashing the Hokie "D" for 297 rushing yards and holding the Hokies to 85 yards rushing. Thomas was ineffective for most of the game, as he completed just 14-of-31 for 265 yards, one TD and three INT's (With most of the yardage coming on desperation heaves). At the end of the day, VT had lost to a team that was 0-2 and had been embarrassed by Youngstown State the week before. A black day in Tech football history.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thomas did set some passing records at VT, but will always be overshadowed by the fall from 10 wins. Personally, I think if Thomas had a better teacher his whole career, he may have been better. It was no secret that when Scott Loeffler got to VT last year he had to clean a lot of mechanics up in Logan's motion and footwork. Combine that with the bad teaching of an internal clock to Glennon and you have a QB coach who got lucky with one (Taylor) and obviously did not know how to work with a talent like Thomas. Thomas had some good moments and bad, but may have the last laugh on critics considering how well he's doing in Arizona where he was drafted in the fourth round.

14.) Michael Brewer (2014-????)

Yeah, you see what I did there, but the bottom line is that we cannot tell who's going to do what for VT. Sometimes they blossom into champions like Vick, Taylor, Randall, and Druckenmiller. Sometimes they're good QB's but not great like DeShazo or Glennon. Or maybe they're injury prone like Al Clark or Will Furrer. They could also be the story of what could have been like Marcus Vick. The position is unpredictable. We've seen some of Brewer but what about him will stand out? Will he be the guy who digs in the fourth and march his team to victory? Will just be par and win seven games? Or will he be just an afterthought when someone like Andrew Ford or Chris Durkin is ready? Saturday will be the first chapter in a new era of VT, hopefully it's a good one.

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